A new large philisid (Mammalia, Chiroptera, Vespertilionoidea) from the late Early Eocene of Chambi, Tunisia


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Abstract:  Among the new dental remains from the late Early Eocene of Chambi (Kasserine area, Tunisia) is a large-sized upper molar of a new bat species, Witwatia sigei nov. sp. (Chiroptera, Vespertilionoidea, Philisidae), described herein. The locality of Chambi has revealed evidence for an early appearance of two modern microchiropteran superfamilies in Africa: Dizzya exsultans, a Philisidae, which is considered to be an archaic Vespertilionoidea, and an indeterminate Rhinolophoidea. In addition to D. exsultans, the new species, W. sigei, is the second representative of the Philisidae in this locality. W. sigei extends back to the late Early Eocene the occurrence of the genus Witwatia, which was previously only reported from the early Late Eocene of the Fayum (BQ-2, Egypt). By analogy with the largest extant microbats, the large size of Witwatia suggests a tendency to the opportunistic diet of this taxon, thereby contrasting with the strict insectivory characterizing primitive bats found in other continents in the same epoch.